Rural Electric Industry Leaders Define Success

By Argo, Gene; Sloan, R. B. et al. | Management Quarterly, Winter 1998 | Go to article overview

Rural Electric Industry Leaders Define Success


Argo, Gene, Sloan, R. B., Struck, Earl, Williams, Mike, Brown, Dwight, Kiley, James M., Brewer, Dan, Management Quarterly


I think it is much easier to measure corporate success compared to personal success, recognizing that the difference between the two is that measuring corporate success is much more objective.

The results of corporate performance define the degree of success as measured against stated goals and objectives that, in our case, add value for our members. Corporate success is the achievement of those goals and objectives using traditional values and ethical business principles.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder when defining personal success. Magic formulas for defining and measuring personal success lie within ourselves. An evaluation of our personal success by others is really only an opinion, while the real measurement is how we feel about ourselves relative to what we are doing and what we have accomplished in business and life.

I have made some personal observations that I think are key elements or qualities in this thing called "personal success."

First, it's a good idea to have a destination in mind as you travel through life. Someone once said, "If you don't know where you are going, you probably won't get there." It isn't necessary to publish your goals and share with others, however, you should at least have a mental picture. You only get one shot at life, so pick a target.

Secondly, good fortune may not be considered critical, however, I would hate to be without it. A little luck can go a long way on the road to success. There is nothing like being at the right place, at the right time.

A third observation, as we hustle down the road of life, is that we probably won't do it alone. Somewhere along the way to success it helps to have friends and sponsors. They surface in the form of fellow-employees, teachers, coaches, and family. There are three characteristics that are necessary when establishing "success" relationships: Pride, Guts and Loyalty.

You should be proud of your relationships and associations. These kinds of relationships provide a strong foundation for social and professional growth.

It may never be necessary to demonstrate courage to support and maintain relationships, however, it is a comfort knowing it's there if needed.

Loyalty is a two way street and a valuable characteristic especially during times of change and uncertainty. Do not expect support if you are not willing to be honest, and willing to champion those who support you.

The last element I have observed is the importance of risk-taking. Somewhere along the way we will be called upon to take on risks involving decision making - both large and small. Generally, the size of the risk determines the size of the reward. Remember, you can't win the buckle if you don't enter the rodeo.

Defining success is not particularly difficult, however, it is very diverse. From the more objective measurements of corporate performance to the subjective definitions of personal success, there are common traits and qualities that contribute to both.

Several thoughts come to mind when I hear the word "success".

First, the word causes me discomfort. When someone describes me as "successful," I find myself wanting to run for cover. I choose to define success in my terms and frankly, that definition is still evolving. I tend to view success as an interim or transitory state in the process of some overall accomplishment or victory.

I find myself asking several questions about what success is or is not. Does success imply a level of satisfactory performance has been accomplished? Is success permanent? Does a cooperative ever reach a state of being "successful"? Is the attaining of success good or bad? Does a feeling of success invite complacency?

While I cannot define it, I know it when I see it. Personal success is recognizable by having a beginning and an end as in a specific project or, in a larger sense, a career. Or, success can be by association as in being part of a "successful" organization. …

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